open hands

by Kristen

Someone asked me about my writing process. It seemed like such an odd question. I just write. There’s not a lot of process to it. I sit with my laptop and type.

But I realized that’s not entirely true.

Usually I have a tiny idea. No more than a seed. I’m not sure it has the potential to grow much less what it might turn into if it germinates. So I write the seed. I describe it. And then, if I hold it loosely enough in my hand, it begins to grow. As it does I keep writing, describing its transformation.

I’m surprised to see what it becomes. I hold it in an open hand; slowly turning it and studying it and being willing to ruthlessly prune off the runners, tidy up the displaced dirt, weed out the false starts . . . often the thoughts I loved best need to be trimmed or cut out entirely.

It’s organic—a process of discovery.

Yet if at any stage I close my hand, it’s over. As soon as I think I’m on to something and try to grab it and hold it, I squelch it. When my fist forms—whether from confidence, excitement or frustration—I stifle the growth and lose my words.

It’s a process strangely like prayer can be.

When I come before God with the people and issues weighing on me held loosely—cupped in open palms—my prayers often take courses I couldn’t have anticipated.

It’s not that I come without an agenda, but I come with the understanding of my weakness to affect situations by my own initiative. I come with passion and desire but no power.

And as I hold them in God’s presence, I offer them up with my inadequate words and His words He brings to my mind. At times I’m astounded to hear what I’m praying: He reveals avenues of hope and peace for the journey.

When I come with closed hands, clenched fists, the conversation ceases. I cling to what I want to happen, I spend my words holding to my ideas and am unable to grasp the thoughts of God. I’ve left no room for Him to turn the issues over and show me the facets I’ve missed.

Even so, I frequently find myself staring at a blank screen or reiterating the same thoughts. Don’t I know better yet? If I uncurl my fingers, relax my tensed hands and describe what’s before me . . . He will faithfully guide once more.


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